About Me

Newfoundland, Canada
I've been a big anime fan for about 10 years or so now. My five all-time favorite animes at this point are, in no particular order... Puella Magi Madoka Magica, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Love Live!: School Idol Project, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. However, there are hundreds of anime shows that I like. The main purpose of this blog is to provide meta-commentary on anime, and the anime industry - to try to cast a critical, though appreciating, eye upon this entertainment genre that I believe has tremendous potential, but can also be easily wasted. I have always been a fan of animation in general - in the 80s, I grew up on western cartoons like He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Through out the 90s, I was a hardcore comic book fan, for the most part. I'm also a big fan of Star Trek. Right now in my life, though, anime is my principal entertainment passion.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Haruhi 2009 Episode 12 Minutia Review!

Maybe Haruhi should have given herself the main role... ;)

I really have to learn to watch episodes before commenting on anything about them.

I really do. ^_^;;;

The impression that I took from the still pictures of this episode that I combed through over on 2Chan was that Haruhi's facial appearance in this episode would continue to feature bewildering deformed looks, and/or lots of broken lines and poor line definition in general. It gave me the impression that this episode was moving farther away from the 2006 Haruhi art model instead of closer to it.

That impression, needless to say, was wholly inaccurate... and boy, am I glad about that! :D

This pretty much is 2006 Haruhi art style. Very much contrary to what some contributors over on Anime Suki's Haruhi subforum have stated, it looks to me like the 2006 Haruhi art style has returned. Who knows, maybe even the frequent critiques of the more recent moeblob style has finally reached KyoAni's eyes, and upon reading it so much, they decided to switch to the older style. I guess that expressing nerd rage in a whine stick way while enduring butt hurt can actually be productive after all. ;)

Folks, this is what fan feedback is all about:

It's about rewarding good content with reaffirming and reinforcing praise, both as a show of thanks to the makers of that content and to help ensure that you get more of the same, and...

It's about punishing poor content with corrective and constructive critique, both as a show of disapproval to the makers of the content and to help steer the show (if possible at all) in a direction that's more to your liking.

No entertainment company is an island unto itself. They're not deaf, dumb, and blind. If they get enough bad feedback, they'll usually take notice, and they will at least attempt to make amends. Kyoto Animation is no different, and it's very pleasing to me to see that maybe, just maybe, they really have listened to the the plethora of artwork critiques, and have made art adjustments in response to it. Well, enough of this meta-commentary for now... unto the episode review! 8)

We begin with the imposing trio of that tall more-mirthful-than-mistletoe chap of Itsuki Koizumi standing next to the perpetually perturbed Hunchback-of-North-High Kyon, and the ever vibrant vivacious vixen Haruhi Suzumiya! This opening visual alone foreshadows the frenzied flight of fitful fibrillating fun that we're in for this week, readers of my Triple_R Queen of Queens minutia review!

This Week's Sake Shot Glass Challenge!: Take a shot for every time Mikuru pops up on screen, and appears to be suffering in some fashion. :D

And we certainly don't have to wait long to see her suffering this week, do we?! ^_^;

Haruhi: Yuki, use your magic and attack Mikuru-chan!

Aaahhh... a Director and a military commander all in one! How can somebody not love Haruhi?! :D

Well, Kyon doesn't seem to be loving her much. With eyes so slanted that it makes me wonder how Kyon is even able to see anything, and with an obvious jealousy over not having an acting role of his own, we behold Kyon put on a stirring (albeit short) performance as a traffic cop issuing a "No! Stop!" command! Makes me wonder why Kyon never bothers to simply call the cops on Haruhi. In fact, given Haruhi and her Brigade's rollicking riotous retreat! sequence shortly after the Super Driver opening, I think I'd find it even more comically side-splitting to watch the fine men and women in uniform of the TV show "COPS!" chase after a Haruhi caught red-handed committing a crime. :D

However, I doubt that even such an hot and intense pursuit as that could leave Mikuru looking like she does at 00:19! Man oh man, Asahina, with uncontrollable shakes like that, you need to see a doctor, and fast! ^_^;

Maybe the good Dr. Casey wouldn't mind checking you out... any comments from the stalwart surgeon on such an idea, I wonder? ;)

Alas, it looks like Yuki is about to blow Mikuru away with the power of magic... except, thankfully, there's this little thing holding her back relating to how Haruhi needs to be kept in the dark about the true nature of Yuki, Koizumi, and Asahina at all times. It's really nice to see this anime finally get back to that important sci-fi subterfuge angle that's been pretty much missing the entire year up until now. This episode consistently and strikingly plays up the secretive charm of that overarching plot element. It really serves as an adept accentuation of the more pure comedy elements of the episode.

Speaking of comedy elements, Haruhi's look and voice acting of displeasure at 00:29 gave me a pleasant little chuckle. There's no question that Haruhi is in full-blown chaotic mischief making master mode for this episode, and I can't wait to see more of it as this episode continues to unfold!

Cue the opening credits!!! A satellite Super Driver will now send us streaking skyward into an outer space of unimaginable unctuous euphoria! Here we go...! ;D

Shortly after the opening sequence, we see Haruhi make the "Rock on!" signal, while talking about how she wants to film Mikuru next to pigeons outside of a temple. Somehow, I very much doubt that Haurhi's rambunctious raucous rocking is going to be particularly appreciated at a serene shrine, ha ha!

Now we see black pigeons descending upon Mikuru, perhaps symbolizing the gradual pecking away at Mikuru's decency and joy that Haruhi does on a day by day basis. But merely pecking away is not good enough for Haruhi, as she channels Lara Croft to take aim at Mikuru with both of her guns, and fires them off with such rapid flare that even a John Wayne gunslinger would feel compelled to tip his hat in admiration towards Haruhi. The pigeons than scatter while Mikuru whines. All-in-all, 3:03 to 3:06 is amazingly animated in both its quickness and smoothness and impeccably placed sound effects and voice acting bits. This synchronization is so terrific that even Hecate of Shakugan no Shana couldn't help but to feel full and satisfied by it! ;)

Then we get a gut-busting guttural grunt from a Shrine Priest... gut-busting in how funny it is! :D We then see the Ranma 1/2-esque character race out, about to put a Miroku-level shellacking to the demonic Director! ;)

3:15 to 3:25 then presents us with another flawlessly frolicking flowing of frames that is both exciting to the extreme, and hilarious to the heavens above! One of my favorite ten second sequences in all of anime... ever!.

That entire sequence made me think of a scene from El Hazard: the Magnificent World where Fire Priestess Shayla Shayla's unexpected assault caused Katsuhiko Jinnai to yell his bugrom forces into"Retreat!" from Mount Muldoon much like what Haruhi has been caused to do here.... although the SOS Brigade are quite a bit faster, and in fact downright Ranma 1/2-esque, in their withdraw than the giant cicadas known as bugrom are. ;) So, a rather neat fusion of Haruhi, El Hazard, and Ranma 1/2 here, for me.

Over at the restaurant, Mikuru appears to be traumatized by the entire event, and hence crying into her noodles. Poor girl. :(

For once, Haruhi actually takes pity on the lovely Asahina, but misdiagnoses her as simply not eating enough. Perhaps in addition to checking out Mikuru, Anime Suki's own Dr. Casey could also take Haruhi under his wing and teach her a thing or two about how to read patients. ;) Still, Kyon must think that Asahina doesn't need to be diagnosed at all, as he foresees a future with Asahina as Miss Universe herself.

LOL! Kyon certainly doesn't leave us in any doubt of what he thinks of Mikuru's looks, does he?

Loads of great facial expressions from Haruhi here. Many of her classic 2006 looks are back. For one, she has her curved at the bottom (and sometimes at the upper corners) triangular smiles back, and from 5:00 to 5:02, she has her classic annoyed look back. It looks like this...

It brings back a lot of great memories for me to see a fuller range of highly expressive and instantly recognizable emotions from Haruhi. It also kind of brings the anime much more to life for me. So good... so good like a lying on a lush green lawn on a bright summer day of clear blue skies and tranquil clouds... to see the return of what, to me, was a central element of Haruhi 2006. :)

Anyway, I found it cute how Haruhi kind of read Kyon's thoughts through his own expressions, but seemed to take them as perverted instead of malicious. ^_^; This offers up an intriguing possibility on Haruhi's character that contradicts what her eight trips over eight weeks to the "masses" swimming poll would lead you to believe - and that is that Haruhi perhaps doesn't like to be ogled. Not by Kyon, anyway.... hhmmm... I'll leave it to others to speculate on what this may mean.

Love Kyon's voice acting when he narrated "Baka!" over Koizumi's troublesome question. Kyon's anger was genuinely well-placed here, as you never should give Haruhi ideas... and Itsuki did exactly that with his question, hehe!

At 5:15, we see Haruhi make that bird beak-esque movement with her lips that I haven't seen since...

Haruhi 2006 is back, baby! :D :D :D

Austin Powers voice: Yeah, baby, Yeah! It's shagadelic! Meeoowwww...!!

Koizumi's reward for helping give us back more classic Haruhi? Why, he gets more screen time, of course! Unlike most fabulous actors, though, Itsuki doesn't seem too enthused by the idea, ha ha!

Haruhi: You need to beat a ton of minions before going after the boss.

Apparently, Haruhi now wants to be a video game designer. I don't know about you, but I'd love to first play a game made by her, and then watch the Angry Video Game Nerd review it! HA HA HA HA!!!

And who better to be evil minions than two characters actually inept enough for the role... Taniguchi and Kunikida, come on down, to the Thug is Right!

Haruhi then talks about how she wants to put Mikuru through extensive suffering, before reaching a happy ending and achieving an impacting final catharsis. Reminds me of what another famous anime Director did to a certain immigrant worker to Japan... he he he he... ;)

I wonder where Haruhi gets her love of guns and firing them from, hhmmmm? ;) I wonder who Mikuru's father may be... ;) It's all starting to make sense now, isn't it, Excel Saga and Haruhi Suzumiya fans! :D

However, perhaps my suspicions are not valid in this case, as Haruhi decides that she's going to have Mikuru drop the guns from here on out. On the other hand, Haruhi herself is still spinning one around threateningly...

She shoots a gun off into the air, and yells "action!"... with out first giving Yuki or Mikuru the slightest idea of what they're supposed to do other than "face off". LOL, Haruhi makes George Lucas' blue screen dependency look good by comaprison! ^_^;

A displeased Haruhi starts pounding her megaphone against Mikuru, bringing back memories to me of pro wrestling manager "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart. I guess that makes Haruhi the Mouth of the East, he he!

Haruhi also proceeds to lambast and lecture Mikuru to fittingly disturbing music, as we see glimpses of Haruhi seemingly start to believe in the possibilities of Zero-esque magical eyes. Makes you wonder if Haruhi knows more than she's letting on. Anyway, at least now we have a rationale behind the contact lens, however. On the other hand, can anybody save Mikuru from Haruhi's relentless abuse?! And the answer, of course, is...



... G.I. Kyon, a real Japanese hero... G.I. Kyon!!! :D

Kyon summons forth his inner Kamina once more! This time not to end the fans' misery, but rather Mikuru's! In the best "gar saves moe!" moment this side of Akasaka kicking the yamainu's ass in order to save Rika in Higurashi Kai, we see Kyon actually grapple Haruhi into submission!!!

Sean Connery: You're the man now, Kyon! (paraphrased ;) )

Outstanding voice acting for both Haruhi and Kyon here. Nice to see that Kyon's muscle definition as displayed during swimming poll scenes in the unmentionable arc has some real strength behind it, as he appears to actually be stronger than uber-athlete Haruhi!

I like how Haruhi handles it. She doesn't whine, or cry, or get upset, or bite and claw at Kyon, or explicitly admit defeat, or anything like that... she calmly maneuvers around the situation entirely by intellectually defending herself and explaining her reasoning. Great touch.

We then have another instance of foreshadowing in this episode as Kyon's narration continually points out how Mikuru couldn't - she couldn't possibly, could she? - actually generate a real life Mikuru Beam? Well.... I guess we'll just have to wait and find out, hehe. ;)

Haruhi finally provides some actual directing by displaying to Mikuru how she should look while emitting the Mikuru Beam.

Very solid use of extras to enhance Kyon's "I could feel the stares of the families around us burning into me" narration.

Love the sequence from 9:43 to 10:27

That entire minute or so of animation is purely flawless. Actually flawless!

From Haruhi's teeth-gritting exaggerated shout of "Mikuru BEEAAAMMM!!!", to the hazy video footage of Mikuru shooting it off, to all of Kyon's stunned facial expressions, to Yuki's AWESOME
death-defying rescuing movements and motions through out the entire scene, to the way the Mikuru Beam actually looked and sliced through things and caused things to burn, to Yuki's breathtaking Batman impersonation, to Haruhi's racing wildly out to the screening area to yell "Cut! Cut!", to Koizumi's sincerely concerned face as he rubbed the edge of the cut to his cue card... ABSOLUTELY FANTERIFFABULOUS!!!

Another top moment in all of anime history for me. And the background music for the scene...


Simply perfect.

To go back to El Hazard, it reminds me of the climatic fight against Galus there, and how you had just one rampageous intense moment after another after another all in a believable (that's the key charm) and gradually building in drama and suspense manner. Here again, I see familiarities between El Hazard and Haruhi - familiarities that help to make both animes two of my five all-time favorites.

And... at this juncture, I'm starting to realize just how overly long this blog entry is becoming. Also, aside from one facial expression for Haruhi that I really didn't like (at/around 16:28), I can't recall anything from this episode that I didn't like. It was a truly excellent and thoroughly enjoyable episode. And, while I disliked that one facial expression, I did love the perverted 'zooming in!' Kyon ogling Mikuru's breasts leading to jealous/upset Haruhi that built up to it! ;D

Also, aside from Tsuruya's triumphantly tremendous return (YAY!!!), I've already touched the highlights.

As such, I'll go through a few more observations quickly...

1) I adored Haruhi's expressionism through out the episode as a whole. Beyond what I've already picked up, I really like how decidedly villainous she looks from 18:30 to 18:38. What an evil open grin she has there! :D And her dialogue that went with it (as well as just before and after those 8 seconds) was such great slave-driving evil overlord megalomanical richness! I also liked her little purse-twirling cheerful-humming skipping off into the night... LOL!

2) I very much liked the art work, animation, voice work, and overall feel for the three-way discussion between Yuki, Itsuki, and Kyon in the aftermath of the Mikuru Beam firing off. What I found... not necessarily odd, but quite... debatable... about the scene, though, was how Nagato kept talking to Kyon's narration. Apparently, Kyon's "narration" gets through to more people than just Haruhi. This may make for a good topic of discussion over on Anime Suki.

3) Exquisite use of lighting and shading through out the episode. This is particularly notable for Kyon and Koizumi's one-on-one conversation starting around 18:50 or 18:51.

4) Haruhi's angry director routine during the last five minutes of the episode was another sensational moment... reflecting how no Hollywood sensation would want to work for Haruhi, he he! I do like the idea, though, of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton being put under Haruhi's dictatorial directorial thumb... ha ha!

5) Awesome use of the three main supporting case members - Tsuruya, and T&K. It was great to see those three characters put to some good use again.

Phew... I guess that I'm finally finished.

Thankfully, however, this anime isn't! I can't wait for the next episode! ^_^

Overall, an awe-inspiring 10/10 for an episode that probably ranks in my top 5 Haruhi episodes of all time, and perhaps even amongst my 20 or so favorite anime episodes of all time. I really, really liked it.

As always, any feedback and comments are most welcomed.

Oh, and since I felt like Haruhi was channeling him about half the time in this episode, and since I found this episode to be "magnificent" (hint, hint ;) ), I'm going to grace this episode of Haruhi with the Jinnai Seal of Approval (taken from Deviant Art - all credit to its makers)!!! :D :D :D

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nanoha's Greatest Enemy : Numbers

And by "Numbers", I don't mean Jail Scaglietti's illustrious harem of artificially engineered girls, as much as I respect the good Doctor's inordinate skill at making attractive females by the dozen. ;)

No, I'm instead referring to something a bit more fundamental than that.

It is not an enemy that Nanoha can bust and break with divinely inspired starlite blasts, and nor is it an enemy that Fate can cut with a sword so massive that it leaves Cloud of Final Fantasy fame in blushing jealousy.

This enemy is, frankly, simple math. It's numbers, in the most basic sense of the term. Specifically, its numbers arising from an exponential growth curve that made Striker S hard to follow at times, and which is definitely the biggest (and in fairness, perhaps only) weakness of the manga Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid (which I've read the first three 20-something page chapters of).

Let me try to explain to my faithful readers what I mean by this, by looking briefly at the three Nanoha animes (all currently in my top 10 anime list of all-time, though Bakemonogatari may eventually knock one of them out).

The original Nanoha anime was charming in its sweet simplicity. I first heard it described as "a magical girl show for guys", and sexist though that way of putting it may seem, I have to admit that the description works. The original Nanoha anime had each and every one of the typical Magical Girl anime elements - the cute side-kick mascot (Yuuno), the close female friends at school (Arisa and Suzuka), the "dark magical girl" enemy (Fate), largely impersonal monsters of the week, sweet girlish voices, an enemy familiar (Arf), ambiguous yuri overtones, an admirably saccharine family, and a (albeit quick) maturation story for our leading Mahou Shoujo heroine.

Oh, and there was also a slight twist on the age old magical girl theme of "Love Conquers All!".

So you took all the prototype goodness of magical girl anime, and made it "for guys" by making the fighting girls' outfits sleeker and more stylish, by scripting for their combat to be more close quarters and breathtakingly explosive and stunning, and by tweaking the old theme of "Love Conquers All!" to "Friendship Through Superior Firepower!". Nanoha is, basically, the bad ass of the magical girls... though still with a heart of gold to compete with the Man of Steel himself, as I argued a couple blog entries ago.

However, when you combine a heart of gold with "Friendship Through Superior Firepower!" with an extremely well-fleshed-out in-canon universe that shows a story unfolding over several years... you may very well reach an arguably inevitable problem. Let me put this chronologically, and numerically, for you.

Original Anime:

1 Main protagonist (with 1 supporter) vs. 1 Main antagonist (with 1 supporter)

This is, of course, Nanoha (Yuuno) vs. Fate (Arf)

2 vs. 2 - both main antagonist and her supporter switch sides near the end, leading to a...

4 vs. 1 situation against the real big bad (Precia Testarossa) and her villainous well guarded fortress.

So, you start off with 1 major hero (1 supporter), and you end off with 2 major heroes (2 supporters). On top of that, you have Chrono in "emergency call in" mode. So, your protagonist count doubles. Still, 4 (or 5 if you count Chrono) isn't that big of a deal. It's manageable at least.

Than we come to Nanoha As... :

2 Main protagonist (with 3 supporters) vs. 2 Main antagonists (with 3 supporters)

Nanoha & Fate (Arf, Chrono, and Yuuno) vs. Vita & Signum (with rest of the Wolkenritter)

Really nice evenly matched groups here, and it plays out beautifully through out the anime.

Eventually, though, the entire antagonist team ends up reformed by "The Power of Love! tm", which means that at the end of Nanoha A's, we now have a total of 10 protagonists.

Ten protagonists... whew, that's a lot to balance. Thankfully, though, only four (Nanoha, Fate, Vita, and Signum) are pure fighters, with the rest being mostly support mages (by choice in Chrono's case).

So, with ten protagonists we then come to...

Nanoha Striker S:

In addition to the 10 carry-overs, we add 4 brand new fighting protagonists - Subaru, Teana, Caro and Erio. So we're up to 8 fighting protagonists, 6 supporting protagonists, and... various TSAB staff, assorted Arc-en-ciel officers, and more secondary characters from the Saint Church than you could shake a Nicean Council at (he he! ;) ).

It's rather ironic, yet fitting, that the enemies for this protagonist group that you'd have a hard time finding a bus that could hold all of, are collectively called... Numbers. :D

Oh, Jail, you comedian you! Ha ha!

Now, in fairness, some characters pretty much just suffer Takahashi Death - a term referring to characters that don't actually die, but might as well have, given how often you actually see them or hear them referenced. In the case of Striker S, Arf and Yuuno have become cameo appearance characters that, if you blink, you will miss them! The less offensively powerful Wolkenritter are nigh invisible as well.

Still, the fact remains, the protagonist cast has bulged to sizes that aphrodisiac makers can only dream of! 12 inches, you say? No, more like 12 active protagonists! That's what Enanoha, the natural cast enhancement tablet, can do for you! ;D

Not surprisingly, Jail was not able to withstand such enhancement coming full throttle at him, and was defeated a bit overly easily for my liking.

Oh, don't get me wrong, Nanoha Striker S was a blast in most respects... just not in the life-and-death drama department. At no point did I feel like Nanoha and/or Fate were truly in danger, or even very much on the ropes, so to speak. Only Teana and Vita struck me as being in truly tight squeezes and/or in death-defying situations. If not for them, suspense would have been almost completely lacking for Striker S.

So, anyway, Striker S ends, and the Numbers are captured, adding yet more numbers to the protagonist ranks, which leads us to...

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid!

So... what do I make of ViVid? Well, it has gorgeous artwork (particularly the colored sections), it has an immensely likable cast (though if Vivio gets any more spunky and self-confident she risks becoming another Wesley Crusher... *shudder*), the dialogue is smooth and easy to follow, and the plot makes sense with important background information released at well-timed points.

ViVid certainly does a great job of capturing the lovable mood and themes of the original Nanoha.

I also adore the look of the new main antagonist, especially in her "Chapter 3 (?)" cliff-hanger scene. She makes me think a little bit of Rider (featured below) from Fate/Stay Night, only bulkier and more powerful looking...

Overall, this manga is excellent... with only two flaws. One flaw is fairly minor, and I'll address that in a swift fashion in order to honor Rider here. ;) That flaw is that one scene in the manga involves Vivio leading a naked Nanoha into the shower along with herself (naked) to wash (I hope ;) ) alongside a naked Fate. Now, I like Nanoha/Fate; it's one of the better yuri pairings in all of anime, I think; but involving Vivio like this... I have to admit that it seemed more than a bit sketchy to me. It didn't help that Vivio's words and facial expressions during the scene walked the fine line between innocent playfulness and sexual playfulness. For any young kid to try to get his or her parents to have sex with each other in the shower, and to then also actually join them in the shower... feels a bit wrong to me. ^_^;

But... perhaps Vivio's thinking was cleaner than that. One can hope, anyway.

But now the major flaw...


There's just so many protagonists here, and I find it impossible to keep track of them all; especially in a visually black and white medium where many distinguishing features (like hair color, eye color, typical color of attire, etc...) are of no help.

I admire Nanoha.

Reforming is better than capturing for the cops is better than killing, in my opinion... and Nanoha, first and foremost, reforms. On the other hand, after you've been reforming for so long, you get a protagonist cast that you'd need a cosmic-level villain in order to create a suspenseful and truly threatening enemy for. And Heaven help us if Nanoha reforms the cosmic-level villain as well. ^_^;;

Basically, I give ViVid a 8.5/10 - rounding up to a 9 when I give Vivio the benefit of the doubt, and rounding down to a 8 when I think that occasionally turning into a buxom butt-busting babe has made her perverted before her time, lol.

But what definitely hurts the manga a bit is the sheer size of the protagonist cast. So... here's what I think the people behind Nanoha should do (beyond making the Nanoha the 1st movie - a smart move in that it gets around the numbers problem):

Break up the protagonist cast into three parts - a part lead by Nanoha, a part lead by Fate, and a part focusing on Vivio being groomed and raised by the Saint Church (while her parents are away on missions).

Put Nanoha's five or six-man team up against new, unique enemies; and maybe make them crazy Joker-esque villains to really put an ideological challenge to Nanoha's idealism.

Pur Fate's five or six-man team up against new, unique enemies; and have those enemies lead by a Lex Luthor-esque guy who Fate has to discover a way to legally bring down, but finds that hard to do due to his mastery of legal loopholes. So, like Nanoha, now Fate's idealism is also brought to the test; in this case, Fate's idealistic "lawful good" beliefs.

And led Vivio have her own unique adventures, largely cut off from the established fighting protagonist cast. If Nanoha-mama, and Fate-mama, are around, then...

Where's the danger?

The suspense?!

The thrills?!!

No, for Vivio to truly grow, she needs to go through what Nanoha did, imo, and that means strictly limited outside help, and standing on her own two feet... just like Nanoha-mama always encourages her to do.

Don't get me wrong; I like the ViVid manga a fair bit; but going forward, the people behind the wonderful Nanoha franchise are going to need to start breaking down the protagonist cast into totally separate parties; probably separate inter-linking animes/mangas; in order to keep any sort of serious drama and intrigue and even cast follow-ability here. The only other effective alternative that I can see to this, is to throw out a villain like this for every signal future Nanoha sequel or spin-off...

And while I get a laugh over how this guy is Haruhi Suzumiya's ultimate wet dream - a timeless alien god that devours "ordinary" worlds for sustenance and who has cosmic senses beyond what Haruhi could currently perceive - I'd rather not see anime have to resort to pulling a Galactus every time a new Nanoha anime/manga comes out.

So, let me finish, by saying... "I HUNGER... for a smaller cast!" ;)

As always, all comments and feedback is welcomed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Playing Haruhi's Advocate

I know that Dr. Casey, amongst probably two or three other friends of mine, were probably hoping that I'd write a lengthy and comedic minutia review for Episode 11 of Season 2 of Haruhi. However, I found that hard to do for this episode for two reasons...

1) It's not outstanding to the degree where I felt that I could epically rave about it as I did the last five minutes of the last episode of the arc that shall not be named.

2) On the other hand, it's far too good to be lampooned frequently, as I was able to do with Episode 10 due to the lengthy focus on Kyon's shoes during one scene, his endless brow-furrowing, and Haruhi acting inexplicably at times.

It's in just that not-so-sweet spot where it's too good to write a lengthy diatribe of it, but not good enough to promote it like Kyon waxing poetic on the beauty of Asahina.

However, I knew that the half-dozen or so followers that this blog has would probably like to read something provocative from me, so I decided instead to use this episode of Haruhi, chockfull of some of her more controversial scenes, as a launching pad for a particular argument that I have. Like the title of this blog states, I'm going to play Haruhi's advocate. I'm going to try to show people why I love this character in spite of (and in some cases, due to) her many faults, and why, even as a person, she's not that bad. Given some of the response that I've gotten on message boards (Anime Suki and Comic Book Resources) in the past for speaking highly of Haruhi's character, I suspect that feedback to this blog entry may be quite... furious. I have a feeling that I might bring out people's inner Sly Stallone, just as Kyon had his own Stallone moment in this episode...
Between this look here, and Kyon's gun-totting ways in this episode, I got a distinct Rambo feeling from Kyon. Given how Rambo Kyon was pointing his gun at Haruhi's cut of the triforce that she has on her SOS Brigade Chair desk, Haruhi should probably be a bit worried about that. ^_^;

Kyon (in Rocky voice): Suzumiya!!!

Anyway, unto the main point of this blog entry - showing why Haruhi isn't as terrible as some make her out to be. To do that, first I will provide some pertinent background information on myself.

In Grade 12 at my high school, back in 1999, I was the Student Council President of the school. It was frequently left to me to MC, if not outright run, major student assemblies, and to try to get some school spirit and good initiatives going through out the school. And believe me... it was a chore. The vast majority of my school chums were too shy to do anything in front of a crowd, most didn't have the get-up and go of Kyon trying to do his home work, and most had all the passion of Taniguchi sans lovely girls to make cat calls to.

Do you know who I would have loved to have had in my school back then? I'll tell you who:

Haruhi Suzumiya

Well, specifically, an English-speaking 15-year old Canadian version of Haruhi (English because nobody in my school spoke French fluently except the French teacher). If there was a Haruhi-esque person in my school, I, as Student Council President, would have delegated loads of things to her SOS Brigade, and said "The show is yours for these bits here, here, and there; have fun with it!" And I'd rest comfortably knowing that the final production would create a buzz, if nothing else. ;)

People like Haruhi are, in some respects at least, the salt of the Earth. They give life added savoring flavor and texture. They shake things up, and keep things fun and interesting. They provide spirit and zeal to places where they are sadly lacking. Even Kyon himself likely feels this way, as the fourth Haruhi novel clearly displays.

Also, when I look at Haruhi's facial expressions in the anime, even during many of her worst moments, she usually doesn't strike me as malicious or malevolent at all. She's simply immature in a way; she wants to have fun like a theatrical Elementary girl who hasn't grown accustomed to the more regimented and restrained school life of most high school students. Of course, it helps that Haruhi's brilliant at school work, and zooms through it, leaving that as a non-consideration for her.

Now does Haruhi cross the line from time to time?

Oh, definitely, she does. Although, for me, it's not what she does to Mikuru that bothers me - Mikuru freely submits herself to that treatment after all (more on that later) - but rather what she does to the Computer Club President. Haruhi, it most be said, is a bit of a swindler. Her lack of respect for other people's money and property is probably her biggest character flaw, actually. Still, she's not entirely miserly; as she showed by paying for everybody's bus fare in episode 11, she's willing to pay expenses at times if she's in a good mood.

However, aside from petty thievery, there's not a whole lot about her that I have a major problem with.

Here I expect the Mikuru fans to take great exception with me. ;)

Well, if Mikuru was a regular high school girl, I'd agree with you. But Mikuru isn't a regular high school girl; she's a member of this anime's version of Nanoha's TSAB (Time-Space Administration Bureau), and Haruhi is her mission. Presumably, Mikuru is getting paid for this, in some sort of fashion. I don't know about you, but if being made the lead actor in a movie is the price I have to pay in order to collect a paycheque, then I'm game! And yes, Mikuru ends up enduring all sorts of embarrassing activities, gropes, and outfits, but again... she chose this mission to do. She could have said to her superiors "Nope, not doing it. Get somebody else to be Haruhi's plaything". You accepted the mission, Mikuru, now it's time to suck it up, Rambo Kyon style. ;)

Beyond this, though, Haruhi is actually quite resourceful and clever, and I think that deserves some credit. In this Sighs arc, Haruhi manages to procure necessary film production equipment by offering Mikuru's promotional services in return for the equipment (at least, that's what I've gathered from this arc so far). Basically, street corner businesses give Haruhi some desired items in return for Mikuru advertising from them. Then, to get even more bang for her buck here, Haruhi films Mikuru's advertisements and uses it as scenes in the movie.

Folks... that is outstandingly clever. That's freakin' Lex Luthor clever... and no, I'm not talking about the insane Kevin Spacey version. :P This sort of sharp thinking, and immensely utilitarian resourcefulness deserves applause in and of itself.

One argument that Haruhi and Kyon had that struck me as funny was when Kyon expressed exasperation over not having a script. Haruhi's reply was "It would be terrible if I put the script into writing and it got leaked." Hey, that's pretty smart thinking too. The makers of the Wolverine movie could really have used somebody like Haruhi on their staff. ;)

All of the above being said, though, I won't deny that Haruhi has a villainous side. But probably one reason why I don't find Haruhi to be all that villainous, is because I compare her to actual villains with personalities like she has. If you compare Haruhi to most protagonists, then yeah, she looks pretty bad. But her minor mischief making, done in the name of making her school and its festivals more exciting and enjoyable (good motive there, at least), pales in comparison to the life-threatening and/or world-conquering natures of these guys who in fact do have personalities like Haruhi's...

This is why gender-bended Haruhi frightens me sometimes. I sometimes think that if you put Haruhi's personality in a testosterone-flowing guy's body, she'd be a little bit more dangerous than she currently is...

So, when you actually compare Haruhi to fictional characters with powers (Star Trek's Q); domineering, dynamic, intensely competitive personalities (El Hazard's Katsuhiko Jinnai), and sexual obsessions/school-based focuses ("I will have them both!" shouts Ranma 1/2's Tatewaki Kuno about Akane Tendo and the pig-tailed girl... there are times when I think Haruhi feels the same way about Kyon and Mikuru ;) ) like her, she doesn't seem quite all that terribly villainous any more, does she?

Of people with her personality type, Haruhi is probably one of the more harmless and moral ones around. So, with Haruhi you get a character with all the fun of Jinnai, but only the degree of evil of, say, a low-level prankster. And for that, Haruhi, we salute you!

P.S. To add a couple of episode points, though, I will say that I really liked Kyon and Taniguchi's moments together in this anime. Their friendship really shined, there... although Kyon's tight-lip over Taniguchi's questions was kind of funny and interesting.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Degradation of the Term 'Tsundere'.

Rin Tosaka, of Fate/Stay Night, is probably the best recent example of the classical or traditional tsundere. What do I mean by 'classical or traditional'? Well, let me try to explain in as concise a matter as possible, as understanding the evolution of the term 'tsundere' is key to the main thrust behind this blog entry.

Traditionally, a tsundere was a female character that started out as very cold and icy, and/or tempestuous and abusive, towards a particular male character, or to all other characters in general. However, the tsundere character would, gradually and steadily, move from "tsun-tsun" to "dere-dere" over the course of the manga/anime that she was in, and basically her cold exterior would melt, or her fiery nature would be salved, and she would become a largely caring, kind, responsive, and sweet character... usually to the great benefit of the main male protagonist.

In the case of Rin, the beneficiary may be Shiro Emiya, although Rin certainly isn't with out competition there.

So, in a classical sense, a tsundere wasn't merely a personality type; it was frequently also a compelling narrative type. It was the story of how a genuinely good guy would gradually pierce through the harsh facade of a girl that he liked through showing affection and concern towards her, and how the girl would become a sweeter and more well-rounded person because of it, particularly in relation to the guy in question. Frequently, the tsundere tried to hide her feelings for the guy in question, adding drama and suspense to the gradual withering away of the veil that she used to cover her feelings with.

I have to admit that the old-fashioned romantic in me finds a lot to like about this sort of story. And, no doubt, many fans - old-fashioned romantics and otherwise - liked the idea of imagining themselves as the main male protagonist overcoming the icy walls of the (typically) beautiful and/or sexy tsundere in order to capture her love, and/or have her admit to it.

However, over time, and for reasons that I'll let any responders to this blog try to explain to me (because I, myself, can't really fathom why), the term tsundere has been drastically changed, and seems to continue to become ever more broad and catch-all.

The first change in the understanding of the term tsundere saw the term alter in this fashion - it was no longer necessary for the tsundere character to actually evolve as a character. She merely needed to have a harsh side, and a sweet side, and to somewhat regularly flip back and forth between the two. And with this one bold stroke, the narrative allure of the tsundere character type was completely lost - tsundere is reduced to simply a personality type, no different than a Yamato Nadeshiko. With this first change, the tsundere would need to be a character that displayed both sides (sweet and harsh) of her personality in fairly equal degrees. Manga Naru Narusegawa (but not her even more violent anime self, I would argue) is a good example of what I will call Tsundere Version 2.0 .

At some level, the first change in tsundere at least preserved a personality type definition of some real descriptive value. Tsundere Version 2.0 was a character with a consistent and intriguing internal dichotomy to herself. Time could be spent speculating as to why the tsundere switched back and forth so much, and what could be contributing to her frequent and rapid mood swings.

Then, however, more changes began to seep into the understanding of the tsundere. Increasingly, the following became true of tsunderes:

Any anime female character that...

1) Isn't a Yamato Nadeshiko

2) Has more overt personality than Yuki Nagato

3) Isn't entirely sweet, or entirely firm/rough/tough

In other words, the character could be harsh 90% of the time and sweet a mere 10% of the time, or sweet 90% of the time and harsh a mere 10% of the time... and still get labeled a tsundere.

Well... if this is the case, I don't see what makes the tsundere special at all anymore. Most girls, or for that matter, most people, have their harsh moments and their kind moments; it's called displaying a full range of emotions. :P

And, to take it to even another level, I recently heard it argued that a female character could be called a tsundere for no other reason than simply holding hidden feelings for a guy.

Well... gee... that's rare, isn't it? I mean, most girls just come right out and say, with out any hesitation whatsoever, how they feel about a guy that they're interested in, don't they? I don't know about you, but I think that those girls that have a hard time admitting their feelings for a guy are a supremely rare and notable bunch, aren't they? ;)

Please forgive me my sarcasm... but I have to admit... I really am finding the most recent usage of the term tsundere to be largely absurd and pointless. It's almost as if people are in love with the term itself, and just like seeing it in print for some reason... and perhaps that is some of it.

However, I think that there is a different reason for why tsundere has become such an incredibly overused term. The term has degraded to such a degree that I don't think it reflects its classical meaning much at all any more. Rather, I think that tsundere, for western anime fans, anyway, has come to mean something entirely different from Tsundere Version 1.0 or even Tsundere Version 2.0 .

What do I think tsundere now means? Well, the answer is profoundly politically incorrect. And it may get me in hot water with what readership I have. ^_^; However, I've always placed a high premium on truth, regardless of how unpleasant it may be... even though, I will admit, a truth like this one is one I'm usually too careful and cautious and reserved to speak out on. But, if I can't admit a truth like this one on my own blog, then just where can I? Heh.

So, with that long build-up out of the way, what does 'tsundere' now mean, to western anime fans at least? Here is what it means:

A typical western girl personality.

If you look at the meager prerequisites to being a tsundere these days, the only characters that always get filtered out are, again, the entirely sweet, the entirely harsh, the Yamato Nadeshiko character type, and very quiet girls like Yuki Nagato. So, basically, I'd say that 80% or more of modern western girls would be a tsundere if we took the term as its currently commonly used, and applied it to real life people.

As for the real life Japanese? Well, that's a matter of debate, and one that I don't feel that I'm informed enough to comment much on. However, I do suspect that many western anime fans think "Yamato Nadeshiko", and/or very sweet and quiet, when they think of the typical real life Japanese school girl. So... has "tsundere" become a term that means nothing more than a culturally based preference in the sorts of women that western guys tend to like to have as girlfriends?

If so, I think that it does a disservice to the rich history of the term "tsundere" to use it in such a fashion. Rather, western anime fans that love Tsundere Version 3.0 should simply be honest:

"I like anime female characters that are like the girls that actually live around me".

Sure, it's politically incorrect, but at least its honest.

And it may restore the term "tsundere" back to something rare enough to be of some value as a personality type label. As it is currently used, "tsunderes" are so common that they're a dime a dozen... maybe even a nickle a dozen. It does a disservice to classical tsunderes like Rin Tosaka, and even to the prototypical Tsundere 2.0 like Shana of Shakugan no Shana fame.

Truthfully, I'm not really a fan of the personality type labels to begin with. But if we're going to use them (and most anime fans seem hellbent on just that), then they should at least have a definition narrow enough to be of some genuine descriptive worth. So, my position, is that we should try to start using tsundere in its Version 1.0, or Version 2.0, sense.

Idealistically, though, it could be argued that we should shed labeling altogether. I tend to like characters that can stand on their own two feet and don't need to have a label attached to them in order to impress, inspire, and captivate. And, as a hint to Dr. Casey of what I'll be doing a blog entry on soon, here's a very good example of just the sort of character that I'm talking about...

Yes, Miss Takamachi, you're a hero. You're also a character that defies labels.

But... if my fellow anime fans need to label you, then I have an unique one to suggest...

Superdere. ;) Because you're sweet, and more than any other anime character, you remind me of this guy...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moe is Neet!

Apologies to Slice of Life, of Anime Suki, for stealing his bit. But we all know what the Simpsons has to say about stealing somebody's bit, so I hope Slice of Life won't hold it against me. :D

Anyway, I have a confession to make.

A rather big one.

Even though I've made a fair number of comments on it, and frequently criticized its art style... I never watched K-On. I spoke of it simply based on a couple short YouTube clips I had seen of it, as well as from what basic second-hand knowledge I had of it.

The show concept just did nothing for me. A show of nothing but female characters, the main ones of which making a rock band, in this art style, and... its not Strawberry Panic-esque, so it probably has no romance or 'hotness' to speak of... yeah, I wasn't seeing the appeal. I especially wasn't seeing the appeal for a male viewer, and frankly, I still don't... well, with one possible exception that I'll get to in a bit. It's a rather neet exception, shall we say. ;)

However, now that I've started a blog on anime, I almost felt that it was my duty as an anime blogger to watch and evaluate one of the best selling animes of all-time. So, yesterday, I sat through and watched seven episodes of K-On.

It's... watchable, at least in quasi-marathon way. I imagine that the plot seems rather plodding to somebody who wants to hear the band actually play, and who waited from week to week to watch each new episode. Nonetheless, these are my general impressions...

Episodes 1 and 2 - Solid start. Good plot. Some of the jokes are lame (especially the slapstick comedy), but I did like the way the story brought the key characters together. It didn't feel forced at all to me. Instead, it felt very natural.

Episode 3 - Pretty boring. It had a couple funny moments, but I would have liked to had seen a bit more emphasis on the band, instead of focusing almost exclusively on studying for and taking tests or make-up exams.

Episodes 4 through 6 - Very nice conclusion of what, to me, felt like a 6-episode opening arc. Taken together, these three episodes flowed very nicely... though I imagine 4 and 5 might have left some viewers impatient if they had to wait a week or two for the obvious conclusion of the build-up to be realized. Knowing that I'd only have to wait a short period of time to see the realization of the build-up enabled me to enjoy episodes 4 and 5 with less unrealized anticipation than what I may otherwise have had. Episode 6 was sincerely cute and fun.

Episode 7 - Genuinely nice heartwarming Christmas special. I very much like the relationship dynamic between Yui and her sister.

K-On has about a 1:1 ratio of good jokes to lame jokes for me... and I can live with that. I won't rave about it, but I won't rip it apart either. Rarely got more than a chuckle out of me, though; paling in comparison to what even the latest episode of Haruhi managed to do for me.

K-On isn't what I would call bad, necessarily - it just fails to stand out much to me. It's like a serviceable NHL defensemen: Plays his 20 minutes, does Ok, does his job, clears the corners about half the time, makes a couple decent outlet passes from time to time but certainly can't quarterback a power-play, maybe gets five goals a season, but all told - he's not a weakness; he's just not a stand-out strength either.

So why does he have the top salary amongst all NHL defensemen?

In K-On's case, why does it sell so well?

Well, that brings us back to the title of this blog entry: Moe is Neet!

Moe is a bartender serving up cuteness.

And the Neet? Well, Yui is the neet. Yui, in one of the first lines in the first episodes, is even warned that she may become a neet, instantly causing the neet viewer to identify with her. Over on Anime Suki, I argued that I didn't see where the male touch-point (i.e. the character that you identify with and live vicariously through) for this anime is. Well, now I can see a male touch-point of some sort at least...

Yui is terrible at school, has a hard time concentrating on her work, does virtually nothing in her spare time (going by her own words)... but she's an affable, harmless character for the most part with an obsession over cute things. Replace Yui's obsession with cute things with an obsession over alcohol, and you get a pretty good description of this guy...

And if you replace this guy's obsession over alcohol with an obsession over cuteness, you basically get the modern NEET. I remember reading an editorial once talking about how Japan has recently endured a large growth in its NEET population. Britain is going through the same situation from what I've read... so could many other countries.

NEET, for those who don't know, is a person "Not in Employment, Education, or Training". Basically, a NEET is somebody currently outside 'the system', who probably has loads of free time and who is presumably (if they're not poor and destitute) making due on income from parents and/or government assistance. The more well-to-do NEETs have loads of time to kill, and some disposable income to burn, and hence can feast upon entertainment for hours upon hours upon hours each day. As with any viewer, they like to see somebody they can relate to. And here we have Yui of K-On - the NEET icon for any NEET, male and female alike.

So, our good bartender Moe serves up beverages of intoxicating cuteness to our NEET friend Yui Barney. Yes... K-On's success is all starting to make sense now, isn't it? ;)

Ah, but there's an added twist! One of Yui's friends and band-mates is a drummer named Ritsu. Ritsu's a fun little character - basically a poor man's Haruhi Suzumiya with out the reality altering powers or cosmological intrigue.

And who is Yui must like of all of her friends? Why, who else but Ritsu!

Particularly when on the beach, Yui and Ritsu are almost just alike one another. So, you see, neet KyoAni fans of Haruhi, now you; yes, you! - can become "Haruhi's" best friend - through experiencing life through the eyes of Yui as you play around on the beach with Ritsu Suzumiya.

And then, to complete this bold process of capturing the NEET market, KyoAni gives us this...

Do you see the bold full circle now, my friends? Do you see KyoAni's master plan in all its glory? You identify with Yui while you play with Haruhi-esque Ritsu and watch Yui become increasingly like her... and then the actual Haruhi is made to look like Yui! Now, the hope is that the NEET fanbase will all identify with Haruhi directly; classic bait-and-switch, with Ritsu acting as an important bridge point! I guess that KyoAni didn't feel that Kyon was up to the job of being the fan's touch-point. Perhaps he's simply not cute enough for the job anymore, especially with all that brow-furrowing that he does.

After all, we may be entering into a new age in anime - the Age of the Moeblob. But... that's a topic for another day.

All told, I now see why some male fans would hold a particular interest in K-On. I see how Yui is the touch-point for neets everywhere; she's not just cute, Barney, she's just like you as well! ;)

I'll leave off by saying that I don't hold much against NEETs, and that this post is made in good fun. In this world economy, especially, it's understandable to be a NEET, and I myself have been a NEET in the past, most recently after leaving my job of two years to further my education. There was a significant interim period between the two (my last day on the job and the start of my education) where I was a NEET.

However, it's interesting to seriously conceive of NEETs as a very powerful consuming target demographic. What will that mean for future animes, I wonder? Will we have more Yuis, and fewer hardworking diggers like Simon of TTGL?

I guess only time will tell.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to any and all replies. Meanwhile, MOE's Bar is just down the corner, currently being ran by KyoAni and Kadokawa, and Moe is serving the cutest beer you've ever seen. I've sure you'll find plenty of neat Barney's there... ;)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Endless Buzz or Endless Debacle? - Looking Back at Endless Eight

I could think of no more fitting and intriguing topic of discourse for my first anime blog entry than the (in)famous Endless Eight. Also, with the emotional roller coaster ride that was Endless Eight now starting to slowly fade away into memory, like the hazy recollections of a summer vacation after you've been back in school for a week, now is perhaps a good time to sit back, and calmly reflect upon what Endless Eight means for the future of the Haruhi Suzumiya anime, as well as for the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. Beyond that, there are three ways, I believe, of evaluating Endless Eight, as a finished product.

These three ways are...

1) Basic Entertainment Value

2) Artistic Merits

3) Commercial Merits

These three frequently correlate well with one another, but sometimes, they may be inversely related - for example, a show may have few artistic merits and be of questionable entertainment value, but still sell like Tim Horton's coffee in the dead of Winter. On the other hand, a show may have substantial artistic merits and be of great entertainment value, but sell like sand castles in the desert. It almost goes with out saying that evaluating the basic entertainment value of a show is a subjective game, much like charades, and less of a clear-cut game like Monopoly. So, when I speak of entertainment value I focus purely on what I, personally, took from it. For artistic merits, and commercial merits, however, I'll try to broaden my horizons a bit.

So, first, let's take a look at Basic Entertainment Value.
Endless Eight is, in either one of its eight iterations, a fairly nice an
d eventful slice of life anime episode. There's no buxom babes shooting eye beams at wonderful witches or giant NGE angel rejects destroying schools or gorgeous teenage assassins trying to knife Kyon, but it does have a lot of charm and style. It also has plenty of pleasing fan-service, I must admit. Including this ultimate highlight of low(er body)lights... ;)

Typical fan reaction to this shot?:

Well, what more needs to be said? :D
After the first three or four episodes of Endless Eight, though, Haruhi, Mikuru, and Nagato's bikini wardrobe, and Kimono choices, was about all you had left to look forward to - the rest was painfully repetitious. It became like eating ten pounds of dry, tasteless vegetables for a few ounces of the sweetest ice cream ever. But then, admittedly, the conclusion to the arc is like a sizzling filet mignon with a side order of potatoes lathered in scrumptious cheese. A lot of crap, but with a nice dainty payoff... dainty in more ways than one, *ahem*. ;)

Overall, I'd probably give Endless Eight a 5 or 6/10 for sheer entertainment value. It could have been worse - it could have been Nagato reading a book for 20 minutes in each and every episode... but it could have been a lot better too. Heh.

Moving on... Endless Eight was a bold artistic gamble, no doubt. While it reflects the anal retentiveness of KyoAni ( "It has an eight in the name! We simply must do something with that!" ), it was nonetheless a ballsy move, with potential artistic merits. However, KyoAni's creative vision in arc concepts was undermined by their refusal to break from the source material to any significant degree at all. Truthfully, I think that JC Staff, an anime company known for loving to produce anime original material, would have done much more with this arc concept than KyoAni did. KyoAni is a company with bold artistic vision, but with out the details men to execute it in an equally eye-catching and flamboyantly artistic way.

Overall, I'd have to give artistic merits about a 7/10.

So, that leaves us with Commercial Merits - probably the most important of the three categories. It is also the one I've given the most th
ought to. What lasting impact has Endless Eight had on the Haruhi franchise, and on the Haruhi fan community? Well, the Japanese fan community is probably already back into the swing of things - from the few Japanese fans of Haruhi that I've read comments by, I get the distinct impression that their patience for stunts like Endless Eight is probably greater than that of your western viewer. They also seem to pick up on nuances and subtleties better than a lot of us western viewers, I think. Perhaps it goes back to what I heard about how romantic courtship tends to work in Japan - it's all based on intuiting what your desired partner wants, and then acting upon that. This takes a keen eye to detail, and a patience to absorb every pertinent idiocentricity or intricacy. The Haruhi DVDs will probably sell Ok, or close to Ok, in Japan, even with the EE effect. The K-On art style also sells quite well over there, so I doubt that the Haruhi art alterations will hurt Japan sales. So, as it pertains to the Japanese fan community, EE's effect is probably negligible. These are hardcore fans that won't shake easily. But what of the foreign market for Haruhi?

This is what I think here, based on trying to take a careful reading of Anime Suki fan reactions, various anime blogs, and what pop culture sites have had to say on the matter...
EE has created controversy, and perhaps some lasting fan rage, no doubt about it. Personally, I view that as worse than positive hype, and worse than 50/50 controversy... but it is better than pure apathy. Again, it would be worse if there was no stunt, but the episodes were boring anyway. OTOH, more Disappearance would have been better than this. That, I think, is the inescapable fact of EE for most of the Haruhi fan community. So, the lasting widespread impact of EE will depend on one thing - how soon we get Disappearance.

What EE has ironically done, in my estimation, is set the clock timing down. There's no more redoes for KyoAni - there's no more endless opportunities within endless loops of foreign fans grovelling for whatever scraps they can get from one year to the next. I personally get a palpable sense from broad swaths of the western Haruhi fan community that Disappearance needs to be done, and needs to be done soon. It's simmering just below the surface, as a Haruhiist's hope and faith is not easily shattered, but KyoAni and Kadokawa's images have become murky, and it's up to them to deliver.

If Disappearance arrives, with good art style and animation, before the end of 2010... then EE will become simply a bad memory, or even a somewhat comedically fond one.
But what EE has done is drain away another quart or so of the blood of patience from the body of Haruhiists. So now there's less patience there. The Haruhi fan community has suffered some permanent losses due to Endless Eight - but EE's controversy may give it some gains to make up the difference, I'll admit. Still, very soon, KyoAni and Kadokawa will have to deliver. I think that they have until the end of 2010. If there's no Disappearance (and Disappearance done well) by that point, then I think the fan community will start to bleed off badly. At that point, I'm even a bit uncertain of the domestic Japanese fan community. That's my current outlook on the Haruhi anime. KyoAni and Kadokawa haven't killed the franchise... but their actions have eroded their image in the eyes of the fans, and have started the clock ticking down on them. Any comments and feedback are most welcomed! :)